…[D]ownsizing of social security systems [has] … grave danger for the rights of workers, for fundamental human rights and for … solidarity. [B]udgetary policies, with cuts in social spending often made under pressure from international financial institutions, can leave citizens powerless in the face of old and new risks …
– Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate #25, 2009
When the aspirations of the wealthy take priority over the needs of the disadvantaged, the Church must say so.
– Cardinal Tom Williams, homily on the anniversary of Rerum Novarum, 15 May 1991
The Social Welfare / Anti-Poverty Committe originated with the concern of the Justice and Peace Commission over the recommendations by the government-appointed Welfare Working Group. That report (the Rebstock Report) assumed that most beneficiaries prefer to avoid work, and suggested increased use of sanctions and penalties.
The Committee aligned itself with the Alternative Welfare Working Group (initiated by Caritas, the Anglican Social Justice Commission and the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation), which begins with concern for fundamental human dignity and rights of each human being to an adequate standard of living. Recommendations include full and adequately-paid employment and higher welfare benefits in order to reduce currently unacceptable levels of poverty in New Zealand.
The Committee’s work on children in New Zealand was based on the vulnerablility of all children and adequate provision of support for their families. Issues of targetting vs universal programmes, inequality, taxation and others are discussed in the submission cited below.
The Committee has:
- Partnered with Caritas to distribute the Guide to the Welfare Reform Debate leaflet in Auckland parishes (Oct-Nov 2011)
- Made a submission to the Minister of Social Development on the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children (Feb 2012)
- Made a submission to the Select Committee on Health for the Inquiry into Preventing Child Abuse (May 2012)
- Prepared the Commission’s 2012 BudgetStatement (May 2012)
- Made a submission on Paid Parental Leave (Oct 2012)
- Made a submission to the Expert Advisory Board on Solutions to Child Poverty (Oct 2012)
The Committee continues to focus on issues of inequality and welfare reform.
Committee currently sharing Convenor duties.
Members: Judith Lunny, Theresa Fepuleai, Anne Paulger, Marija Urlich, Chris Sullivan, David Tolich, Dennis Fahey
27 July 2016
Submission of the Catholic Diocese of Auckland Justice & Peace Commission – Social Welfare/ Anti-Poverty Committee
To: Social Services Committee
On: Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Advocacy, Workforce, and Age Settings) Amendment Bill
The Social Welfare/ Anti-Poverty Committee is part of the Catholic Diocese of Auckland’s Justice & Peace Commission. Our work is based on Catholic Social Teaching and Gospel values of compassion, justice and love of ones neighbours.
Catholic Social Teaching and Vulnerable Children – Call to Family, Community, and Participation
The person is not only sacred but also social. The decisions we make for how New Zealand society should be — in economics and politics, in law and policy—directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.
Key points of submission
We ask that you consider the following issues:
- The Expert Panel report does not mention Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Child Poverty, Homelessness, Inadequate Social Security and Welfare financial income levels and supports, adequate household income, Living Wage supports and stair cased pathways to sustainable employment. This bill arises out of the Expert Panel Final Report: Investing in New Zealand’s Children and Their Families. The Justice and Peace Commission has concerns with the Social Investment model as proposed by the government as the key approach and methodology for delivering services to vulnerable children, and adopted by the Expert Panel in their report. We agree that investing in families and young people is valuable and worthwhile, but this does not inevitably lead to the specific actuarial model currently being adopted in New Zealand’s social welfare system. We have a concern that this is based on a market model that is increasingly delivering funds to privatised service providers, rather than directly to the children and families most in need of help. It is not good news for the poor.
- The Expert Panel report divorces vulnerable children and their families from the cultural, social, economical and political contexts that surround them and in which they are situated.
- The Expert Panel speaks not of a Social Security System nor of a Social Welfare System, but rather of a Social Investment Model. An all new Actuarial System will be developed to drive the whole new programme. A Social Investment Board consisting of an Independent Chairperson, Independent Appointees, Government departments, NGO’s and Maori representatives will perform governance functions. Thus, we have a governance model more akin to the ACC. This is definitely not a Government Ministry. In one swift action Vulnerable Children and Young People will be under the care of a liken State Owned Enterprise. Social Investment with its goal of long term reduction to the State is de facto privatised. The Cost Benefit analysis would seem to be aimed at reducing fiscal risk for the State rather than protecting and supporting vulnerable children, young people and their families.
- Properly support and resource social workers: there need to be adequate numbers of well qualified and well paid social workers. We ask you to consider securing this in the Bill. As the professionals making critical decisions affecting vulnerable children, young persons and their families, any delegation of their obligations needs to be carefully considered and managed.
- Raising the age of care and protection: we support this amendment and ask for further consideration to be given to an equivalent youth justice age.
- Establishing advocacy services for children and young persons in care: this is an important amendment, the success of which will be ensured by its proper resourcing. We ask you to consider the sustainability of funding this important service by the philanthropic sector.
We believe a revision of Support and Development and Care for Children, Young Persons and their families has been captured by an external actuarial Social Investment Model of Social Service delivery. This is not good news for the Vulnerable Children and Young Persons whose circumstances the Report was supposedly meant to address.